Technology enabled learning?

This blog post is a good example of how I make sense of the world outside of my brain. I’ve got a starting point, where it ends I have no clue.

I get caught up in rhetoric all the time. I’m easily led by the force of someone’s argument when it chimes with my own line of thinking. If someone has something to say, and I like it, and I like how they say it, that’s it, I’m there. I’ll defend them and their point of view because I agree with it.

And so I find it easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of the use of technology to enable learning and act as a performance support. I’m all over that shizzle. Online collaboration tools to allow groups to develop ideas and projects? Perfect. Give people free licence to create their own courseware and open up e-learning at work? Wicked. Actively use smartphones in a learning session to develop the technical capability of learners? Awesome. Sending PDFs of documents after the fact, with links and with further learning options? Excellent.

And then I read about mindfulness, and the benefit of having time to think. And I think about the role technology plays in that.

If technology allows us to always be on the go, and in today’s age the concept of being switched on is almost a fundamental right, what happens to this time to think?

More, I start to think about the hard topics that happen in face to face learning sessions. Things like assertiveness training, having difficult conversations, coaching, and presentation skills. Those topics are hard enough to make meaningful in a 6 hour time frame. Does the inclusion of technology in those learning sessions make them better?

I wonder if this is just about good learning design. If we design learning well, and design thinking time and dialogue into the session, is that the art of good learning design? Does it matter then if technology is used or not?

I’m not bemoaning the use of tech. If anything, I’m an absolute advocate of using technology for learning. I’m just cautious that in doing so, are we actually helping the learner be their best, and learn in the best way?

Dialogic practise remains the single best way a person learns. When you hear a concept/an argument/an idea, this causes you to engage. No level of complexity in learning design will change that. All good exercises and practise involves providing vehicles for thinking to happen and for development of thought to take place. Technology can support that, but does it become a hindrance?

When we go for a walk, and the fresh cold crisp air hits you, what does that do for you?

When you’re in the sun and the warm rays are filling you with life, what does that do for you?

When you’ve spent quality time with your partner and you’re joyed with one another, what does that do for you?

There’s a pressure to capture those moments with tweets and facebook and the likes. There’s a pressure to let others know about those fulfilling moments.

In the learning environments, there’s a pressure to move towards technology enabled learning. In performance support, there’s a pressure to moving towards online forms of support (internal and external).

What do you think?


Published by

Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

4 thoughts on “Technology enabled learning?”

  1. Personally I find that “thinking time” in a face to face session quite frustrating. “Right everybody now we’re going to stop and think about the things we’ve just been talking about and reflect on how they might apply to us, or situations we could have used these new approaches in”.

    To me that’s forced reflection and it’s one of the reasons I don’t take well to face to face training. Reflection should lead to some level of insight and you can’t schedule insight. It’s much more likely to happen when you go for that walk in the crisp cold air or feel the warm sun on your face.

    But if you use technology to space out the learning and introduce the new ideas before people get to the face to face session and give them the means to talk about it online when it suits them, they also have the space to uncover the insights that matter to them. Then when you get to the face to face bit, if you still need it, you can have more productive genuine conversations.

  2. I agree, proceed with caution. Just because technology is taking over everything we do doesn’t always mean it’s the best way to do things. How many times have I bought something online and rued the decision when I’ve wanted to talk to someone about the quality of the product. I think we’re forgetting that above all we are human and most ‘human’ of humans want human interaction.

  3. I think tech-enabled learning can be a great complement to face-to-face learning. A f2f session is good for introducing some ideas and discussing them, then you can use videos, PDFs, blog posts, podcasts etc to focus or expand and explore over time – which helps with reflection and goes back to your earlier post about how long it takes to change behaviour. We’re in the process of adding a lot more online material to support our f2f sessions this year.

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